Do-Si-Do

As cinematographers, artists and technicians, we are being offered more complex and efficient opportunities (and the ability to record much more image information) with each passing month. Such opportunities hold wonderful potential for us as filmmakers, but they can also serve as a threat in subtle and discrete ways.

By having to create stories with images so dense and acute with information – more “hyper-real,” if you will – we have entered an era where the quality of our art and craft has to keep pace with the same breathtaking increases in new technology. There’s more pressure on the filmmakers at the point of capture (us) than ever in the history of this industry.

What we’ve learned from these challenges is that the more information we can record – more highlights and shadow depth, subtle details over all aspects of the frame – the better our lighting must become. As lenses get sharper and crisper, beyond how even the naked eye typically sees; as sensors get more, well, sensitive; and as the projectors and video screens get ever more acute with detail and resolution, we have to develop new methodologies to capture the “mystery of the image” that’s always been Hollywood’s greatest legacy.

Thankfully, the tools our Local 600 camera teams are being offered go well beyond just better glass and cameras They also include new lighting methods to mold our images, grip tools to expand how we move the camera, and filters and software to best augment our traditional photographic imagination.

In this respect (with a nod to Charles Dickens), we are living “in the best and worst of times.” Technological development, since the start of the digital era, is moving faster than with what mere mortals can keep pace. But the people behind that technology – the inventors, engineers, manufacturers, and vendors – have completely dedicated themselves to being our professional partners, kindred travelers down a road with no fixed signposts or end in sight.

The vendors and manufacturers with which our Local 600 crews work are willing (and eager) to help educate and train our members, because they know that we respond with honesty and (once proven under fire) loyalty to their products. That’s not only important to keep this industry viable and economically healthy; it’s also a key to our understanding of how best to use these new tools to enhance our craft.

When any Guild camera member – operator, assistant or cinematographer – asks to try out a new piece of gear, I don’t know a single vendor or manufacturer that doesn’t respond in the positive. When we say, “Help me learn how to use this,” they always say, “Yes, and I’ll carve out whatever time you need to get it right before you start production.”

In many ways, the issue you’re holding now (which profiles dozens of new and improved tools) is the Guild’s opportunity to provide our industry partners and their products with a well-deserved tribute. It’s our way of saying thank you for being such great dance partners, and for helping Local 600’s membership every step of the way.

Fraternally,

Steven Poster, ASC
National President
International Cinematographers Guild
IATSE Local 600